Fired for drinking the wrong beer?

Colorado man who worked for Budweiser distributor claims he was fired for drinking Coors, but company disputes that notion

Milliken, Colo. — A Colorado man who worked for a Budweiser distributor said he was fired because he was spotted drinking Coors at a bar after hours.

Ross Hopkins, 41, was a supervisor at American Eagle Distributing Co. until his employment was terminated on May 17, 2003. He said the son-in-law of the company’s owner spotted him drinking Coors at a local bar. He filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming it has no right to tell him what he can and cannot drink after hours.

But an attorney for the distributor disputed the notion that Hopkins was fired for drinking a competitor’s brand. Jeff Bedingfield told the Greeley Tribune that Hopkins was fired for disparaging remarks he made about the company while in uniform at the bar, not for drinking Coors.

“The question of how much Mr. Hopkins can remember the night of the incident is in question,” said Bedingfield.

He also pointed out that Hopkins had been demoted from warehouse manager two weeks before he was fired. Bedingfield said the company isn’t looking to settle the suit and fully expects it to go to trial.

But Hopkins said the company is spinning a story that won’t stand up to a court’s scrutiny.

“I’m willing to fight that battle,” Hopkins told the Greeley Tribune. “I’m looking forward to it because what they did was terribly wrong. They know it. I know it, but they’re not willing to admit it. They want to save face and go on.”

In the response the company filed in court, American Eagle said Hopkins was fired “for conduct that relates to a bona fide occupational requirement that is reasonably and rationally related to the employment activities and responsibilities of a particular employee.”

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